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Friday, August 17, 2012

Aap Geele Hain!

Agar aap class mein clock dekhne ke bahaane peeche baithe ladkiyon ko check-out karte hain, to kasam Indian Penal Code, dafha 420 ki, Aap Geele Hain!

Agar aap midterms ke waqt sirf ladies ke doubts solve karte hai, ya sirf ladies logon ke Facebook posts koh "like" karte hain, toh kasam Playboy founder Hugh Hefner ki, Aap Geele Hain!

Agar aap MALES-ONLY team-members ke project groups mein besharmi se FREE-RIDE karte hai, aur apna saara effort ladies-waale group projects mein lagaate hai impress karne ke liye, to kasam Feminine Activists ke high-pitched slogans ki, Aap Geele Hain!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Wednesday!

A Wednesday!

11th April, 2012.
11:04 a.m.

The day I was at work and everything was as always. I got up to attend a training session, when a colleague said in a low voice, "Dude, where are you going? The Calcutta results are out!"

I don't know what happened in the next few seconds! A total blackout I must say.
Next thing I know, I am staring at the results portal of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta for the batch of 2012 - 2014.

With shivering hands and constant mutters of "Shit shit shit shit" I somehow managed to enter my details.
I clicked on "Get Results"


I got a glimspe of the word "Congratulations" and without even seeing the rest of the page or even if it was indeed my result, I pressed Windows+L and stood up...

After a few joyous utterances of profanity and a huge sigh of relief, I called up a few people and had long conversations with them.

Later it occured to me that I may have made a total fool of myself had it been the case that I were in the waitlist or if it were someone else's result page that I had accidentally opened! I rushed to my laptop and keyed in all the details again, this time with even more trembling hands! Add the knees knocking away to glory as well!


Same result! Selected for IIM Calcutta!

Man! I immediately removed my enrollment for the training course at work and made a few more calls.

The rest of the day was one lovely, floating feeling...

All in all, a day I will never forget. A day I will always cherish. A day when I was astonished by the overwhelming moment... I had never foreseen my reaction. I always felt that I would be elated beyond words and would be pumping my fists in the air and clicking heels mid-air...

But no. It was a humbling moment. The greatest management institute of the country had selected me. It felt like an unreal blend of ecstacy, excitement and a soothing calm. Peace overcame me. I felt so grateful. Surprisingly, pride was one of the last few emotions to get to me. I didn't feel like a boss, not at all like a sir. I felt like closing my eyes and crying softly till all of this made sense.

It didn't. It still hasn't. And it probably won't anytime soon.

A very stong feeling of thankfulness overcame me. I met my Sir-Mentor-Guide-Friend that evening for one amazing, amazing conversation and celebration.

And after what feels like an eternity, I finally decide to post this on my blog.

This is the dream. Joka is going to happen. I am going to enter the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Island

Do not check Google maps.
Or go back to your geography professor.

There is no island in Gurgaon.
Or is there?

Narcissist me at his best :D
AM the island of Gurgaon... Here from 20th July to 5th August 2011. On business (with a tad of pleasure).
All alone in my air-conditioned and wi-fi enabled hotel room. Not a soul in sight. I see the four or five hotel staff members daily and apart from that and work hours (I am actually on training here), I am totally isolated from people. Yes, the mini-fridge and large television do provide company, not to mention my laptop and the perennial companion - my cell phone.
But no other humans!
And by the time I get back from work, it is usually 7 or so in the evening.
Yeah, I go for a walk to the nearby mall, aptly named "The Shopping Mall" (as if it were necessary not to have misnomers here!), but would you believe it - would any of you Puneites believe it - the place is desolate after 9 p.m.! All I have is the occasional mutt on the streets or the beautiful birds in the morning.
Now tell me, doesn't this qualify me as THE island in the city of Gurgaon?

Thank the heavens for Internet and television. And of course the cyborgish attachment (real cell phone) that we all have these days.
Man! How did people manage before all this!!

But hey, it's kinda fun being alone.
You are suddenly conscious to every moment and breath. Every bite that I eat at my solitary breakfast or dinner is truly appreciated and I am aware to every breath that I take. I suddenly realize the deficit in the average number of words spoken in the day! Yeah, so i do go to office for 8 hours a day, give or take a few hours. But there's no scope for talking there! I'm in training, for heaven's sake!! Barring the occasional doubt in class or the offbeat joke in the cafeteria, I AM NOT TALKING!!

Well, I gotta admit, I am talking a bit everyday, but with whom and what about is not something I will mention here.

It's fun being an island for a change. And if you look closely, you are never really alone. Or should I say we are all ALWAYS alone. I open the balcony door and the view is serene. A few tress, the silent street below. The only sound I hear is of the nocturnal insects or the chirping of birds at dawn.

Feels nice :)

It's good to be alone once in a while. Kinda makes you think a lot about your loved ones.
Makes you ponder about why you hurt such people occasionally...

I can't wait to go back home and hug all these beautiful people, most of all my sweet li'l parrot whom I miss ever so badly... My family and friends - at least I could tell them how long I'll be gone and when I'll be back. But how do you tell your parrot that you'll be gone for long...

I just petted his beak, told him I'll be back...

He didn't understand...
He looked at me as he always does...

I cry when I think of him...

He doesn't know why I am not there right now, petting his beak and calling him sweet names...

I wish he knew... I really do...

You know what, I have this all wrong... I am NOT the island here... Physically, I may be away from everyone, but they know why and I know why... So I am not the island in this picture...
But there is an island... In Pune. One who is physically amongst all the people who love him and care for him. Except one person, me. He is the real island. He is he one who is constantly wondering where I am and whether I will ever return...

He is in for a nice long weekend of beak-petting when I go back home... Till then, I just hope he carries on as always, though I know he won't be the same until he sees me back...  I know I am not the same without him.

The sweetest, most sqwacky and tiniest li'l island on earth, my parrot Tinku :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

If All Your Plans Worked, You're Life's a Fixed Cricket Match!

I don't say don't plan anything in life. I don't say live recklessly and take life lightly.
But if you plan every single day or phase of your life, aren't you fixing the most important match of your life?

Think of it this way. You are the reader of an amazing crime novel by Agatha Christie. You can and will enjoy the book more than Agatha Christie did when she read the final draft of the book. It is because she planned and thought of exactly how every chapter would unfold the next part of the brilliant story. But for you it all came as an intriguing package that revealed itself slowly and painstakingly!

Although Agatha Christie certainly gained tons more by writing the book than you did by merely reading it, life isn't about end results. It's about the process and the journey from birth to death.

One must live one's life, not just survive or scrape through it like it were an exam season in Engineering! And going purely by this logic, we must laugh and cry with what life gives us and not plan every bit of it like it were executing a Master Chef recipe!

So go out there, live, love, laugh, cry, fall down, get up and move on...
Take each day as it comes. Learn from your mistakes. You won't aim to make mistakes if you plan how to live your life. Hence, you won't plan to learn anything that really matters.

Don't plan what you want to be 10 years from now. You don't even know what you'll be tomorrow.
Yes, work hard to get what you want and need. But don't plan it like a railway timetable.
Do what you like, not something that you think will get you to become what you want 10 years from now.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The 7th Chit

A guy I knew in my school days once told me a story bout a guy who knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy who was once caught cheating in the worst way imaginable!

I do not know the name of the hero of this story, but then again, it is prudent to not mention names when the story is rather embarrassing for the protagonist...

The veracity of the story is indeterminate, I almost certainly believe that this is a concoction cooked up in the mind of a remarkable storyteller amongst my childhood friends, yet a part of me begs that this is indeed a true story... Enjoy!

They were tense. One pensive look was returned by another. Silence spoke a lot; through their eyes it betrayed what they were going to eventually suggest to one another. The three standard 10 students in the empty class were bracing themselves for the nightmare of nightmares... The Biology examination...

One broke the silence, "Man, this is stupid. There's no way I'm clearing this exam. I can't draw those damn cells, I can't spell those damn diseases and I can't distinguish one amino acid from the other."

Another replied, "I'll second you, bro. I'm screwed as well. No amount preparation will see us through this exam."

The hero spoke up, "It isn't about the amount of preparation. It's about the type of preparation..."

"What do you mean?" the others asked.

"Six chapters. Six chits. Easy."

"No way man, you're going into dangerous waters..." they said in unison, but their tones betrayed their barely concealable interest in the idea.

"Well, it's easy. I'll jot down the main points chapter-wise in six chits. It'll be a piece of cake."

"But what about us?" the other two asked.

"You guys can copy it all from my answer sheet. I'm the most organised of the lot. I'll make the chits concise and compact."

"Ok man, you're the best!"

That night, the protagonist sat up, half nervous, half excited by his master plan.
Later, he calmed down and in a composed manner, began to neatly write down all the salient points of chapter one on the first chit.

Chapter 1 - Cell theory
Some definitions followed.
And a brief summary of the entire chapter.

Happy with the first chit, he moved on to the second one.

Chapter 2 -The Skeletal System

Some definitions followed.
And a brief summary of the entire chapter.

Happy with the second chit, he moved on to the third one.

Chapter 3 -The Nervous System

Some definitions followed.
And a brief summary of the entire chapter.

Happy with the third chit, he took a break.

"Well, this isn't so bad, halfway through already!" he thought happily.

An hour later, he resumed his preparation.

Chapter 4 - The Digestive System

Some definitions followed.
And a brief summary of the entire chapter.

Happy with the fourth chit, he moved on to the fifth one.

Chapter 5 - The Urinary System

Some definitions followed.
And a brief summary of the entire chapter.

Happy with the fifth chit, he moved on to the sixth one.

Chapter 6 - The Endocrine Glands

Some definitions followed.
And a brief summary of the entire chapter.
Happy with the sixth chit, he decided to go to sleep.

"But wait a minute," he thought as he set his alarm clock. "How will I hide so many chits conveniently so as to get the right one at the right time?"

He pondered... All in one pocket will be messy and chaotic to retrieve the desired one in one shot.
Let's see...
Let's start with convenient hiding places...
Upper pocket... Hmmm... Risky, can be seen by the invigilator... Cancel.
Under the watch... Not bad. I'll hold this one.
Left sock... Good!
Right sock... Sure...
Trousers pockets... First place they'll check!!! Cancel!
Hip pocket... Ok, I guess that's not so bad.
Stuck using chewing gum to the left heel of my shoe! Excellent!
Right shoe... Chewing gum... Done!
Whew... that's final then...
Six chits... Six places... Under the watch, hip pocket, left sock, right sock, below left shoe and below right shoe...

He slept soundly with a satisfied smile.

The next morning he was joined by his two friends just outside the exam hall.
They looked at him questioningly.
He smiled and gently patted his watch, his left and right socks, his hip pocket and lifted the heels of his shoes and pointed at them confidently.

"One quick question!" asked one of the other two. "How will you know which chapter's chit is hidden in which particular place?"

"Oh my god, I didn't think of that!!" he replied in horror. "But hey," he suddenly seemed calm again. "I know what we can do," he said looking at his watch. Still 10 minutes remained before the exam commenced.

"Every book has an index!" he said excitedly. "That's what we need."
"A seventh chit!" they all said in unision.

They briskly scrawled the seventh chit and it was as follows:

Chapter 1 - Cells - under watch
Chapter 2 - Skeletal - hip pocket
Chapter 3 - Nervous - right shoe heel
Chapter 4 - Digestive - left sock
Chapter 5 - Urinary - left shoe heel
Chapter 6 - Endocrine - right sock

Happy at last with their preparation, they confidently strode into the exam hall.

The invigilator came in the class instantly and peered around through her thick glasses. They seemed to be microscopes scanning every student for any signs of mischief.

She went on to hand out the question papers to the students. The bell rang. The exam had commenced.
All this happened in a flash. The students began hurriedly scrawling their answers.

Our three boys sat in the corner, strategically positioned so as to be able to clearly peep into each other's sheets.

The invigilator took around the classroom.

Our hero was calm and composed. All six chits were well-hidden in good spots.
The random inspections began...

As anticipated, trouser pockets were heavily targeted and thoroughly checked.
"Whew," the hero thought.
He was checked as well. His pockets were found to be empty.
"Heh heh," he said to himself after the invigilator moved away.

He withdrew the seventh chit and got down to work... The question paper stared him in the face.

Q1. Draw the human skeletal system and explain the following in brief - Humerus, Tibia, Fibula.

He referred his index chit. Chapter 2 - Skeletal - hip pocket.
"Piece of cake," he thought as he withdrew it carefully and copied all the required data. He carefully returned the chit to his hip pocket after he was satisfied with his answer.

Q2. Explain the basic cell structure with a neatly labeled diagram and explain the functions of the nucleus.

Seventh chit to the rescue. Chapter 1 - Cells - under watch.
The other two boys continued copying the first answer from his answer sheet. He pulled out the chit from beneath his watch.

It was a mission too easy now.

He neatly copied the answers and carefully placed the chit under his watch again.


The invigilator caught a glimpse of him fidgeting and was fast approaching him.

He panicked.
He put the index in his mouth!

"Stop it!" the invigilator yelled and pinched his nose.
Instinctively he coughed the index out!

Gross and sticky as it was, it flew across the desk and landed on the floor, a crumpled, damp blob.

The invigilator said with a cruel smile, "Pick it up."
The hero obliged.

"Place it on the desk. Open it."
The rest of the class looked on in, drowned in a deep sea of silence.

The invigilator red aloud the contents of the index.
"Chapter 1 - cells - under watch"

She pulled out the chit from underneath his watch.
A muffled murmur filled the class.
"Quiet!" she commanded.

"Chapter 2 - digestive - hip pocket"
She pulled out the chit from his hip pocket.
A few giggles accompanied the murmur this time.

"Chapter 3..."
One or two students burst out laughing.

The ordeal continued.

"Chapter 4..."
Students seated far away stood on their feet to see the proceedings.

"Chapter 5..."
The farthest students stood on their tables to see the tamasha.

"Chapter 6..."
Both the invigilator as well as the hero were now laughing...

I repeat, the veracity of this story is uncertain. But just spare a thought for the poor boy and his poorer planning!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our Dark Passenger

Well the answer is no. This blog isn't about Dexter Morgan, our favorite serial-killer (at least he's killed most of other tv serials we used to watch of late).
This post is actually about the dark passenger that we all have. Yes, you heard me right, I did say that we all have one.
Your favorite school teacher, your friendly neighbourhood ice-cream man, your parents...
They all have a secret someone within them, who doesn't necessarily make them sinister enough to go around killing people and dumping them at sea, but nevertheless, they all have a little something that occasionally passes through them that, if revealed,  would shock all of us.
Let me be clear that I am not talking about the skeletons in one's closet...
I shall concede that all of us do not have skeletons in our closets. Those of us that have always lived by the rules and do not have an act of the past that shall haunt them unless covered up for eternity, are certainly the ones that can honestly open their closets to anyone and show that no skeletons tumble out.
Coming back to the main point, the dark passenger is someone or something that resides within you, with or without your consent or desire. The dark passenger manifests its effects periodically, and this may or may not lead to the creation of skeletons to be hid in your closets... Most of the time it does... Sigh...
Dexter's dark passenger manifests into murders (killings, if I wish to be politically correct for his ardent fans). These murders are skeletons in Dexter's closet (or at the bottom of the sea to be literally correct). The skeletons can be dealt with but the point here is that the dark passenger passes temporarily, only to formulate an encore in the days to come...
So what does your dark passenger do?
Don't answer that... Not to me, not to your friends... And I daresay, not to yourself either...

Think about it, dwell deep within and think of that remote corner, deep in the abyss that is your persona. Your dark, dark secret. Hidden inside you. Securely guarded from everyone else. You are an individual - a separate entity in this world - you are an islet in a sea of several other distinct islets that represent the other people in your life ...
Only you know your islet to its deepest extremity. No one else does. Thank god they don't. If they knew you fully, well, I need not go further...
How many of us can honestly say that we have absolutely no secret that would stun several people that we associate with on a daily basis?

My real driving force behind this post is to suggest to my readers to come into terms of acceptance with their dark passengers. Do not try to eradicate the passenger, do not try to deny their existence... Yes, try to control the dark one and perhaps take measures to do some damage control...
So what does your dark passenger do?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Faith and Fact

Here's a story I wrote a long time ago. The premise seemed to impress the panel who interviewed me for XLRI earlier this year. Hope you have a nice time reading it. Patience is the key! It does get a little heavy midway...

Faith and Fact

“Of god and man, all I can say for sure is that one of them has created the other.”       - Jay Puranik

   “Excuse me, is this seat vacant?”
   “Thank god! I thought I was going to have to travel while standing again.”
   “It’s merely a matter of timing. This seat was unavailable moments before you boarded. Then the passenger left and you arrived at the most favourable time. Had you been a few minutes late, it would have probably been occupied by someone else.”
   “True. I have to stand almost daily. I’ve been lucky today. I mean, there are quite a few half-empty bogies yet several people enter overfull ones in haste. It was undoubtedly god’s doing that made me choose this one.”
   “You didn’t get me. What does god have to do with it? There are laws governing all of this. There is no ‘luck’ factor. Science today can talk in mathematical terms about the probability of one getting a vacant seat at a given station at a given time on a given day. The uncertainty or ‘luck’, as you call it, is what you say is in the hands of god. We as humans have so far only been able to conclude superficially that some bogies are crowded, others are not. Yet I firmly believe that we can do more. By studying all the so-called luck factors it should be theoretically possible to predict with absolute certainty whether one will get an empty seat. Just plain mathematics and advanced interpolation of statistical data. I imagine that one day it will be possible for every commuter like you and me to have a station-specific chart, very much like a railway timetable that most of us carry, with indisputable chartings of the bogie number that will have an empty seat for him or her at the desired time. Obviously, this is under the assumption that there are enough seats to match the number of travellers.”
   “That’s insane! With due respect to math and science, I still say that there are certain phenomena that humans can only see and feel, yet never fathom the laws behind them. It is this realm of the unexplainable that we call god.”
   “Centuries ago natural calamities like volcanoes, earthquakes, avalanches and blizzards were supposed to be god’s rage. Today geothermal and meteorological studies embarrass such beliefs. Even a few centuries ago, flying above the earth’s surface or staying underwater for days could be possible only for god, but today aircrafts and submarines make it possible for mere mortals. Anything that has been unexplained for us till date has been given the status of god. As things get unravelled and we put our findings down as mathematical equations, science blossoms and rationality prevails. You laugh at my mathematical prediction chart today, maybe in a few decades your grandchildren will actually be implementing them. And then I will laugh at your god.”
   “Okay, I get it. You’re saying that all happenings around us are plain science. That there are ‘rational’ explanations to anything that happens, right?”
   “Well then please illustrate with an example. I’m a layman, you see.”
   “With pleasure. Just give me a moment.”
   “Well, when a bomb explodes, the force causes the shrapnel to fly in all directions, seemingly at random and without any law binding the motion of the pieces of varying shapes, sizes and weights. Do you follow?”
   “Yes, please continue.”
   “So god alone knows where a given piece is going to fly, right?”
   “Quite so.”
   “Not quite. The truth is that with a study of mechanics and ample measurements, it is humanly possible to predict the path of any piece under consideration. Applying an uncomplicated principle that the momentum of the entire bomb as a whole before the explosion must be equal to the vector sum of momentum of all individual flying pieces after the blast, as no external force is applied on the stationary bomb. The blast is initiated by a chemical reaction within the system itself and hence is an internal force that will not contribute to any net, unbalanced force and consequently momentum. Now, the exact direction, velocity at a given instant, acceleration just after the blast and mass of any piece can be accurately calculated by studying the vector sum of the momentum of all the other pieces. Then a simple calculation yields the resultant momentum, in magnitude and direction, of all the other pieces which must be balanced by the piece in question. This directly gives its momentum in terms of magnitude and direction, from which the mass and velocity can be further calculated. Though laborious, it can be done. So your seemingly random happening isn’t so indeterminate after all and has a very fundamental principle of Physics behind it.”
   “I don’t understand.”
   “Never mind. My point is that what we can put down as an expression on paper is fully fathomable and has no divine hand behind it.”
   “Don’t be cross with me! You’d be just as confused as I am right now if I began talking about the message of god. Fine, some such cases might be explained by your equations and calculations. But what do you say about the things that we can’t put down on paper?”
   “We must study more about such occurrences with the belief that all is analytical. After all, what was a mystery at some point of time is simple Physics today.”
   “I’m amused, I must say. All that you just explained about the bomb and the momentum and what not, how do you put that on paper?”
   “Elementary. There are equations based on Newtonian mechanics and directly relate force with acceleration and also the rate of change of momentum. For your fancy, I write them on this tissue paper.”
   “Let me see.”
   “Here you go. The first equation relates force with mass and acceleration. The second is a differential equation that is basically a rewritten form of the first by replacing acceleration with the time derivative of velocity. Obviously, the product of mass and the derivative of velocity is nothing but the derivative of momentum-”
   “One moment. All this is very much beyond my comprehension.”
   “So you attribute it all to god.”
   “Trust me, you don’t know what you’re talking about any more than I what I have understood.”
   “Please! You say this randomness, this unpredictability, is god’s handiwork. I know for sure that any phenomena–any at all–that occurs can be explained logically. The ‘miracles’ we cannot explain with science do not imply that there is a power beyond our scope. They merely mean that science hasn’t gotten to understand them yet. I have fully understood the laws that govern the motion of the fragments of the bomb.”
   “My dear friend, you have seen the law in action. You have experimentally proven the existence of such a law. You have felt the results and applied this law to your calculations. You haven’t understood the law.”
   “What do you mean?”
   “Why is force equal to mass into acceleration?”
   “Um… because Newton’s second law of motion states that the rate of change of momentum is directly proportional to the impressed force and-”
   “Stop! I’m not asking you to quote law, which I know is undoubtedly true. I’m asking you why this is so!”
   “What do you mean ‘why’? If I push you away, wouldn’t you move behind by the force? The law only relates the amount of push; I mean force, to the acceleration it would impart to you. And it states that the resultant direction is the same as that of the applied force.”
   “Yes, your law relates this perfectly. But I’m asking you explain why this happens. Today you’ll say that it’s absurd for me to be pulled towards you if you push me away because the laws of Physics say so. Suppose god had made it the other way round, by that I mean to say that if every push resulted in a pulling action; wouldn’t you find it natural for me to be pulled towards you when you pushed me back? Your reasoning is not so obvious, come to think of it. I mean, we know that the like poles of a magnet repel each other. True. Agreed. I’m asking you to rationally explain why this happens.”
   “Simple. The magnetic lines of force have an inherent property of originating at the South pole and terminating at the North pole within the body of a magnet and outside the body, it’s just the opposite. Consequently, one magnet’s North pole is attracted to another’s South because the lines of force get their desired path to follow from the north to the south po-”
   “And you have no reason why the magnetic lines have such a property?”
   “Well, some things are just fundamental.”
   “You’d say the same thing even if god had inverted the properties of magnetic lines of force. Suppose the unseen almighty that I talk of as god had made the like poles of a magnet attract each other, all you guys could do is to verify this practically and pass it off as a fundamental law. My question still remains unanswered! Why? Who decides these things? You people only formulate your laws based on what you see. But who shows you these things? Whose laws are you discovering? Who makes these laws? You say matter cannot be created nor destroyed, then I ask you, who creates and implements these laws? Who stops you from creating or destroying matter? You say mass already exists as an entity made up of fundamental particles, your atoms and molecules. I ask you this, what is fundamental? You explain all of semiconductor theory based on the behaviour of an electron. How can your basic electron even come into existence without a creator?”
   “You stimulate my thinking a step beyond I thought you were capable of.”
   “That may be an insult or a compliment, but it assures me that you agree with me that there is something divine and supreme which is beyond every mortal’s intellect.”
   “I never said that it makes me believe in the supernatural. At the same time, I don’t deny your god for the simple reason that I cannot prove god’s absence via experiments or ground facts. Just as I cannot believe in god without solid proof, I cannot deny god’s existence without a logical argument. All I can say is that even if god, according to your definition, exists, then god exists in a form that conforms to science.”
   “When was the last time an invention was made which made its creator conform to it?”
   “Just answer me. When did an invention come up that changed humans to suit it?”
   “Never. It’s always the inventor who decides what his invention is going to be like. The invention cannot alter the inventor!”
   “Yet you say that god must conform to science. God has created your science. So science must conform to god and it isn’t the other way around. What on earth could you possibly mean by saying that god must conform to science?”
   “By this I mean that there must be a perfect set of mathematical functions and variables which govern god’s working. Perhaps mathematics of such high level may be involved that the human brain might be incapable of formulating a logical model of god and the laws obeyed by this phenomenon of god. Science has never opposed god. Science just uses facts available to us to make theories that explain occurrences.”
   “And what do you say about religion?”
   “Religion conceals, misinterprets and often twists facts to suit theories written hundreds of years ago by so-called wise men.”
   “Religion is based on faith.”
   “Faith cannot move mountains.”
   “If a mountain is a hindrance, religion teaches you to go around the mountain peacefully or better still, to live on it. Science would blast a tunnel through it.”
   “It’s a matter of opinion as to which solution is better. Science makes life comfortable, enriched and enlightened; something your religions only claim to offer. That is a fact.”
   “You believe a fact to be so because you have faith in it.”
   “You put faith in anything and call it a fact.”
   “Faith gives us back what material benefits of science steal.”
   “You mean?”
   “That inner solace and spiritual satisfaction which lightens up believers each time they enter a temple, church or mosque.”
   “Does it give them their life when in critically ill or injured? More lives have been saved in a hospital than any of the places you talk of.”
   “Science can extend your miserable, atheistic lives; religion can make the shortest of lives worth living.”
   “Atheistic? Miserable? Well excuse me, I must advise you not to confuse a believer of science with an atheist. More so to say that such a person is miserable. I know many doctors who say their prayers before performing surgeries. Quiet prayers are said even at NASA before a rocket is launched. I do not represent the entire class of science supporters. I am a subset. The fact is that I am a person of science and also an atheist. The former does not imply the latter.”
   “At least I was right about the miserable part.”
   “Why makes you think that I’m miserable?”
   “Your own principles are the cause of your misery. You only believe what you can see, hear, touch, smell, taste and analyse. Your study’s success only expands your worries because initially it strengthens your belief in science’s might each time you explain a phenomenon. The more you learn, the more hassled you will eventually get because you will always be a step away from explaining the unexplainable. The best part is that the unexplainable is prevalent everywhere. You will never answer any of the questions I asked you a while ago.”
   “There’s a saying that a fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer.”
   “But only a greater fool seeks answers when no questions were asked.”
   “I’m talking about most research work that is failing miserably in feeding the teeming poor all over the world, reducing crime and making the world a better place to live in.”
   “All research intends to be a boon for humans.”
   “What about firearms and nuclear weapons?”
   “Oh come on! That’s indispensable for national security. Besides, we also have non-destructive devices like NLP technology that are fast replacing their more violent forms, at least for riot control.”
   “What about futile expenses for inconsequential research like The Hadron Collider?”
   “How can you call it futile?”
   “It’s only going to give you newer laws. You will never know how we were all created. We cannot study the direct doings of god like an experimental sample. That’s as absurd as a bacteria culture studying the iris of the researcher as he or she looks at them through the microscope lens!”
   “Hey, even you spiritual folks keep pondering about the origin of the universe, okay? We’re just doing something sensible about it by simulating the post-Big Bang conditions.”
   “And how can you be so sure that there was indeed a Big Bang?”
   “Look, there’s enough evidence to accept it as the most feasible theory to explain the origin of the universe. This experiment will answer what is unexplainable right now.”
   “So before conducting any experiment to prove your theory right, you must have faith in it, correct? You place faith, without proof, in your theory, right?”
   “But every theory is based on initial assumptions that are not contradictory to other proven principles of science. Everything is rational, including the assumptions. Besides, the assumptions are verified to see whether they were valid after analysing the results of the experiment.”
   “And you just presume that the other principles of science used in making the assumptions are absolutely correct?”
   “It’s not just an assumption that the proven principles are undisputed. Proven scientific principles are, as you would put it, the gospel truth. We have experiments to prove anything that we claim to be true. And mind you, if you can experimentally prove under practical conditions the existence of a divine being, we will accept it without any issues. Then a sensible theory will show up and god as an entity will be a scientific truth. Perhaps it will be the most fundamental truth of all.”
   “I beg your pardon, but I must repeat my question. What is fundamental? Even if you show me mathematically how god works, my question still remains. I will ask you who created this scientifically-viable god which you can explain on paper in your equations.”
   “Then I believe there is no point in talking further.”
   “Then let’s talk a step backward. You say all previous proven principles are absolutely true. Didn’t this claim dissolve when Einstein spoke of relativity and quantum mechanics contradicted several apostles of Newtonian mechanics?”
   “Relativity and quantum mechanics, you say! Has this conversation educated the layman within you already? Look, if science beats science, the winner is still science.”
   “So is the loser.”
   “And both parties are enriched by the new knowledge discovered. Unlike a conflict between two religions where the loser is vanquished and the winner exposes its barbarism. Religion that talks of love and compassion is itself responsible for so many riots, assassinations, terrorist activities and wars around the world today. Isn’t this contradicting god’s purpose, questioning god’s supremacy and the very existence of god?”
   “It’s my turn to advise you. Do not confuse religion with god. Religion is just a way of life, a code of conduct imposed upon followers under the name of humanity. God and religion don’t always go hand in hand. Jainism, for one, is a religion that doesn’t believe in the existence of god.”
   “Point taken.”
   “You know, this chat has been quite interesting.”
   “Absolutely. To think that arguing with a stranger could be so much fun!”
   “Really sorry that this must end so abruptly; my station is coming up next. Have to get off and catch the other train now. It’s so much more crowded than this one!”
   “Well, I hope you get a seat.”
   “I must admit it; it’d be very convenient if I had one of those charts you spoke of!”
   “For now, may god help you!”